One Major Principle for Hiring and Firing

If you have a leadership position that carries the responsibility to hire and fire people, you know the weight that carries.

Both hiring and firing can keep you awake at night. It has for me many times.

It does get better with more experience, and the more you learn. But it does require intentional effort to improve. You won’t get better just because you put in more years.

There is so much to cover on the subject, but for this post, I have just one major thought for you. Here it is:

We tend to look for the good when hiring, and we look for the bad when firing.


The Law of Perspective

This is influenced by the law of perspective. Let me give you a picture of this. My wife thinks I’m handsome. OK, for obvious reasons that perspective is held pretty much by Patti only. Love blindness is awesome! She has formed that perspective because she loves me and she has chosen to see me as her knight in shining armor. Picture King Arthur in Camelot. See, the law of perspective didn’t work for you did it?!

We intuitively think laws are black and white, but like in any courtroom jury trial, the law is up for interpretation. The interpretation can win the case or get you in a ton of trouble. It’s the same with hiring and firing.

The human psyche is a powerful engine that works to talk itself into what it wants. The simple psychological idea we all know is labeled as rationalization. It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves of and make ourselves believe.


When you need to hire someone, sometimes you’ve been searching for months, and you are tired of looking. When you’re doing that job plus yours, it’s so easy to see only the good in your next candidate and make a foolish hire.

This common scenario (and others like it) will often cause you to lower your standards and hire them basically if they are breathing and like coffee.

The better route is to take your time, discover the truth about the candidate, and make a smart decision involving a thorough knowledge (written down) of both the good and the bad. No one is perfect, so the obvious goal is that the good far outweighs what is not so good.


When you need to release someone from your staff, it’s never fun and the process can be filled with awkward tension and pressure. It doesn’t have to be that way, but often is. This is usually a result of two things. First, failure to have the tough conversations early on, and second, failure to develop the staff member in order to help them improve.

No matter how you get to the point of firing someone, the powerful force of the human psyche will kick in again! It does its thing to help make you feel better about letting this person go. The way this happens is that you focus on all their weaknesses, what you don’t like, the flaws and shortcomings, etc. In short, all that is “bad.”

This principle may not change the need to let someone go, but it will help you do it in the right way. It will help you make sure you invest in leadership development, have the tough conversations over time, and demonstrate that you genuinely care about the person. It will also go a long way to secure a lasting Kingdom relationship far into the future.

Remember in hiring, no one is as good as you think they are.

The truth is somewhere in between, and it’s your job to discern it.

When you see reality more accurately, you lead, coach and connect better with your team. You make better decisions. This helps your culture thrive and morale will increase.

2 thoughts on “One Major Principle for Hiring and Firing”

  1. What an excellent and much needed post, Dan. With the vast majority of churches in America not being megachurches, hiring and firing decisions are often made by one person…or a board who doesn’t always have all the input necessary for a wise decision. Emotions definitely enter in and they make objectivity difficult. And once we have a bad experience with someone we often find it difficult to avoid looking at future experiences through the lens of that negative one. It has been said that the time to fire someone is before you hire someone. Thanks so much for your wisdom in this delicate area of church life.

    1. Thanks for your comment Don. And your perspective on emotion is relevant! Most churches are smaller and these decisions can be made by one person (pastor). Or the pastor is the primary influencer of a church board, that can sometimes be emotion driven as well. Hiring and firing is a really complex and tough leadership responsibility, tough for any leader!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.